Deaf Women Aloud Initiative DWAI on Thursday 29th September, 2022 paid an advocacy visit to University of Abuja teaching hospital Ante-Natal Clinic (ANC) unit to mark this year’s Deaf awareness month (every September) on the rights of Deaf women in Nigeria.
Mrs. Hellen Beyioku-Alase, the Executive Director Deaf Women Aloud Initiative (DWAI) and also the President Deaf Women Association of Nigeria (DWAN) in her opening remark appreciated health providers in University of Abuja Teaching Hospital ANC unit for giving them the opportunity to create this awareness in their unit.
She said that she understands that their unit is a crucial one and as such requires the attention of both the health providers and the patients and that is why they are here to amplify the voices of Deaf women in the society.
“The international week for the Deaf was signed by United Nation Convention On the Rights of Persons with disabilities (UNCRPD). Deaf women are just like every other woman out there and they have right, so human rights are deaf women’s rights and these rights should be respected”.
“Our Deaf women do not enjoy inclusiveness of health facilities so we want equal access for Deaf women in Nigeria to these facilities”.
She said that the barriers women with disabilities especially Deaf women faces in the health facilities are social/attitudinal barriers and most importantly communication barriers and because of these barriers, Deaf women experiences complication during pregnancy and mortality during child birth, imagine a Deaf woman coming to the health facility precisely ANC unit and there is no sign language interpreter in the facility, how will the person understand what there are teaching? How will the person know that we have pre-natal care, during delivery how to know when to push? During post-natal care? How will the woman know it’s time for immunization and when to come for immunization?.
So, some of these things are the things we face as Deaf women and we want health service providers to ensure that Deaf women in Nigeria get their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) because it is their right and this can be achieved through introduction of sign language in their health facilities in every unit especially in the ANC unit and our focus is on communication barrier.
DWAI developed a sign language glossary which is a graphic of health conditions in pictures and words which can be used in the absence of the sign language interpreters that was developed 2years ago with the help of Federal Ministry of Health, some doctors, health care providers, FCT primary health care and other women with disabilities organizations helped in developing this glossary to make sure that Deaf women in Nigeria are not left out in SRHR.
“The important of this sign language glossary is that It has words and illustration which is related to pregnancy, antenatal care, and some other related issues of SRHR all the complains in which pregnant women comes up with is in it with illustration and this can help a pregnant woman even without the presence of sign language interpreter or even before the arrival of interpreter or in case of emergency”.
In her response, Nurse Umar Kadijat, Assistant Director Nursing ANC unit University of Abuja teaching hospital said that this is not the first time we meet with Deaf women in our facility we have successfully delivered some of them their babies and they go home with their child, which we use read and writing method to communicate with them. However, it has not been the best part of communication with them but that is the only means we can talk with them.
Speaking further, she appealed for more collaboration with DWAI and DWAN so that they can avoid maternal mortality of any such among our Deaf women that uses our facility and she expressed hope that the management of the hospital will make provision for sign language interpreter because it very necessary so that they can be getting first class information and be able to know when it is a matter of urgency.
She appreciated DWAI for the initiative and expressed hope for better collaboration.
Mrs. Abdulwasiu Monsurat, while sharing her experience on what she passes through in health facility as a Deaf woman said it has not been easy using a government hospital but the most important thing that Deaf women want in a health facility is provision of sign language interpreter so that Deaf woman can be able to understand how to care for herself during pregnancy what she should take and how to care for her baby, some of us do not know that we should come for post-natal care and even immunization so that is why an interpreter is very important because health is wealth.
In her response, Mrs Aboi Rhoda Monday Assistant Director of Nursing UATH said that they had a case in the facility which a young Deaf mother was not able to understand them and was not even able to communicate with them until she lost her baby in the womb simply because of communication barrier so because of that it is of great necessity that sign language interpreters are provided in the hospital.
DWAI gave UATH copies of SRHR glossary and promised more collaboration with the ANC unit to ensure effective communication between the service providers and Deaf women.